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Not every guitarist records their own music. In fact, most guitarists will never make a recording of themself. However, many of the burdens associated with the task of recording have been, thrown aside. In the past, it was necessary to assemble an entire team of people to make a recording. You had to have one or two engineers, a producer and several band members. As technology has evolved, the amount of labor associated with recording has decreased dramatically, along with the number of people needed to produce quality recordings.
For most guitarists who want to record, especially in a home studio, the recording environment will consist of three things, the guitar, the amplifier and the recording device. All three of these are of equal importance in producing quality recordings.
First, you must make sure that you have a quality guitar and it's in good working condition. If you’re not up to the challenge yourself, take it to a quality repair person who will be able to make sure that your strings are correctly adjusted, the action is comfortable and that all your electronics are working correctly and free of buzzing and other electrical noise.
Second, the amplifier or direct recording interface. These days, guitar recordings are made with direct recording interfaces. These devices can be great time savers in the studio and can offer you a tone equivalent better than a traditional amplified signal. If your going to use the amplifier approach, you need to make sure that you have a quality microphone to pick up the signal from your amplifier and that your signal is free from all interference. This means making sure that your amplifier, microphone and cables are free of buzzing and be sure to turn off all fluorescent lights in the recording environment. Fluorescent lights reflect most of their energy back into the system. If a amplifier or loudspeaker is hooked up to the system, a beautiful hum ensues, ensuring whatever recordings you make are useless.
Third, the recording device. For most of us these days, our primary recording device is a home computer. Macintosh has been the industry standard for years, but most PC manufacturers have caught up and work great. Although the majority of studios still use Macs, the only real difference is your personal preference. Whatever type of computer you decide to purchase, however, make sure that you max it out with speed and plenty of memory.
Even though many computer programs and direct recording devices will have good sounding presets, make sure that you experiment and try to come up with something that sounds original. Many presets are loaded with gain and effects to make them sound impressive to first time listeners. Remember, a whole lot of great guitar sounds have been recorded with minimal amounts of distortion. Effects can always be added later, so don’t risk messing up a great recording by committing your effects right away, without being sure of the tone that youu actually want.
Set up Your Guitar
Amazing guitar tones start with the player. Recording a great song with a good player is always key. Beyond the player, the instrument must be in tip top shape as well. Sending your guitar to be professionally set up is a great way to ensure your guitar tracks are properly in tune and there are no buzzes, hums or squeaks coming from the instrument. A professional set up will also allow the guitar to play easier and feel better, which will help to create a better performance.
Isolate The Amp From The Floor
When recording guitars in small spaces, the physical connection between the amp and the floor can cause the amp to vibrate with the floor. This creates an artificial sense of low end that is often hard to equalize out and can make your recording sound muddy. By isolating the amp from the floor with dense insulation or a product such as the Auralex Pad, the amp can accurately reproduce the low end without vibrating with the room. This can be very useful with dense guitar arrangements where layered guitars can stack up to create a muddy mess in the mix.
Pick A Pick
Although you probably have a favorite guitar pick that works well with your playing style, there are guitar pick options that can drastically alter the tone of your guitar. For more attack on leads and solos, a metal pick can brighten up the guitar tone without having to resort to EQ at the amp. In contrast, a felt pick can be the perfect choice for soft rhythm guitar that needs to sit well with keyboards and piano. Before spending lots of money on a new amp or effects pedal, a trip to the music store for a new guitar pick might be all you need.
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